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Rides on Way for Seniors

Getting a ride to the grocery store, doctors appointments, and church events will soon get a little easier for Eastonites age 60 and older and the visually impaired, says Nancy McCormick, Westport manager of ITN Coastal CT .

The company, which offers 24/7 “dignified transportation for seniors,” should be up and running in Easton, Weston, Wilton, Westport, Fairfield and Norwalk in September, she said.

According to McCormick, the national organization was first started after the founder’s toddler son was hit by an 83-year-old driver. The organization has been expanding ever since, with 16 affiliates nationwide, including three in Connecticut, she said. She estimates most affiliates give about 1,000 rides every month and according to the Charleston Currents , ITN Charleston, S.C., just gave its 20,000th ride.

Those who are 60-years-old or older, or who are vision impaired are eligible to join by paying a yearly membership fee. McCormick says that while the exact prices for the membership and the per-mile fee are still being worked out, she estimated that it will cost about half the price of an average taxi ride

McCormick says ITN is aiming to have 80 percent of the drivers be volunteers. Volunteers, who aall undergo a background check, would earn a free membership and would rack up rides that their older relatives could use anywhere ITN operates throughout the country. The drivers could also donate miles to a road scholarship for those with low incomes to use. “It’s a win-win for everybody. We’re very excited about it,” said McCormick.

The difference between ITN Coastal CT and programs like Dial-A-Ride, said McCormick, are that other programs put priority on medical appointments and clients who want to go to the store could get bumped down on the list if someone else has to go to the doctor. ITN is also unusual because it offers 24/7 service.

With the Ride and Shop and Healthy Miles program, business can help donate miles to customers. Anyone can give a gift certificate to donate extra ride miles.

Members can also donate or trade their own vehicles in for a possible tax deduction or ITN ride credits.

Volunteers will walk riders to their doors and help with any bags or packages, which McCormick says is unqiue. The service is “door through door, arm through arm,” she said. “It keeps people safe and allows them to continue what they’re doing,” she said.

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